Hotel brands and social media: Leading and following at the same time?

If you want to see an industry that’s using social media to best advantage, you needn’t look any further than the hotel trade.

hotels on FBMore than any other industry segment, hotel brands seem to have gotten a very good handle on the whole “local/global” concept.

Hotel properties that are part of a large chain or group originate from the main brand, of course.  And yet, the nature of the business means that they are individual entities as well, across the country and around the world.

For this reason, many local hotels that are part of larger chains have established their own individual social profiles.  That’s turned out to be a great way to attract more consumer engagement compared to social pages that are focused on global hotel branding.

Moreover, the social profiles of hotel properties are the perfect vehicle for promoting programs aimed at generating more bookings via local special offers, vacation deals and the like.

Recently, social media analytics firm Socialbakers researched some of the world’s largest hotel brand groups to determine the extent of their social media presence by looking at the seven most important platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest and LinkedIn).

hilton logoAs it turns out, seven hotel brand groups have at least 1,000 separate social profiles on these platforms.  In the case of Hilton, it’s nearly 2,000:

  • Hilton Worldwide: ~1,850 separate profiles across the top seven social networks
  • InterContinental Hotels Group:  ~1,550 profiles
  • Marriott International:  ~1,300
  • Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide: ~1,250
  • Wyndham Hotel Group: ~1,250
  • Accor: ~1,200
  • Best Western International:  ~1,000

In looking deeper at the extent of the social profiles these giant brands, Socialbakers found some interesting details that may point to certain individual strategic differences.  Among the findings were these:

.  Facebook is the most popular social platform for everyone – no question – with at least 50% of each brands’ social profiles housed there.

.  Twitter is the next most popular network, with profiles there representing between 20% and 40% of all social profiles for each brand.

.  Starwood Hotels and Accor are somewhat less Facebook-centric than the others – and they also have a more significant presence on Instagram and LinkedIn than the other brands.

.  Pinterest appears to be the least attractive major social platform for individual hotel profiles.

.  Hilton and Marriott have the largest number of social profiles in North America. 

It would seem that the big hotel brands are both leading and following when it comes to their social media presence.

While they may be ahead of the curve compared to many other industries, they are also following the lead of their own consumers – so many of whom rely on conducting their own online research and consulting user reviews to determine where they want to stay – not to mention the best room rates and deals they can find in order to do so.

How about you?  Like me, do you follow certain individual hotel properties on social media, or instead do you focus on hotel brands more broadly?  Please share your perspectives with other readers here.

Fast Fade: Unpaid brand posts on Facebook are getting rarer by the day.

Lower ReachIt was just a matter of time.

Once Facebook ramped up its advertising program in order to monetize its platform and mollify its investors, unpaid posts by companies and brands were sure to be the collateral damage.

Sure enough, the recent monthly stats show that the “organic reach” of unpaid content published on company and brand pages on Facebook has been cut in half from where it was just a short time ago.

To illustrate, look at these stark figures gathered in an analysis by Ogilvy of 100+ country-level brand pages measuring the average reach of unpaid posts:

  • October 2013: 12.2%
  • November 2013: 11.6%
  • December 2013: 8.8%
  • January 2014: 7.7%
  • February 2014: 6.2%

What these stats show is that within the span of less than six months, the average reach of unpaid brand posts dropped by nearly 50%

To go even further, an anonymous source familiar with Facebook’s long-term strategy is claiming that its new algorithm could ultimately reduce the reach of organic posts to 2% or less.

Actually, the reason for the squeeze is more than just Facebook’s desire to increase advertising revenue.

Here’s a dynamic that’s also significant:  A Pew Research study conducted in mid-2013 found that the typical adult American Facebook user has around 340 friends.

That average is up nearly 50% from approximately 230 friends in 2010.

Of course, more friends mean more status updates eligible for feeds … and Facebook’s not going to display them all to everyone — even if it wanted to.

Also, Facebook users “like” an average of 40 company, brand, group or celebrity pages each, according to a 2013 analysis done by Socialbakers, a social media analytics firm.  That translates into an average of ~1,440 updates every month.

Compare those figures to five years ago, when the average number of page “likes” was fewer than five … yielding fewer than 25 monthly updates on average.

Clearly, there’s no way Facebook is going to to be able to display all of these updates to followers.  So … the content is squeezed some more.

The final nail in the coffin is the rise in “promoted” posts – the ones that brands pay dollars to promote. It’s only natural that Facebook is going to give those posts priority treatment.

Thus, the hat-trick combination of more friends, more likes and more promoted posts is what’s causing “organic” brand posts to go the way of the dodo bird.

In retrospect, it was only a matter of time before a major social platform like Facebook would seek to monetize its program in a big way.

In some respects, it’s amazing that the free ride lasted as long as it actually did …